Yesterday I visited a great physical therapist for my sore shoulder. After asking a few questions, and testing my strength in a few ways, she was pretty sure of her diagnosis: adhesive capsulitis, impingement with perhaps some biceps tendonitis. Wow. Also known as “frozen shoulder.”
She measured my ROM (range of motion) in various directions. She then did some deep tissue massage, poking and pulling until my shoulder cracked in a good way. Finally, I did a few exercises meant to push the shoulder into a stretch that hurt a little, but not too much. After icing, I left with a page of four daily exercises, feeling much better.
I had been ignoring this shoulder problem for months, close to a year, even. It made me toss and turn in my sleep and every morning it ached. Advil was needed most days. Tennis was still fun, but with limited range of motion, my game was suffering.
It turns out that this lack of mobility in my shoulder was affecting my entire body. My posture suffered. My sleep suffered. My ability to lift things suffered. After seeing the therapist and getting some help, everything feels better. And I know that if I keep up with the exercises, I will likely return to full mobility without surgery.
In the same way my frozen shoulder affected the functioning of my body, a “cold shoulder” affects our functioning in society. We are meant to work together with full freedom – range of motion – so that all the parts work in harmony. When we ignore something that hinders our mutual work, relationships become frozen, inflamed, painful. It is particularly true in families and in the Body of Christ. We become immobilized and need therapy. The longer we ignore it, the worse it becomes.
While on my back, working one of the shoulder exercises, the therapist told me the goal was to get my open hand flat on the table above my head. I said it might be weeks away. She said maybe months.
My life needs therapy in more ways than physically. I need to exercise my openness toward others. I need to bridle my tongue. I need to improve my serve. Lord, let me see where I am immobilized in the world. As I exercise faithfully, please restore full freedom of movement so that your spirit can enliven all my interactions.
James says, “The tongue is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body; it corrupts the whole person.” James 3:6
A hot tongue is like a cold shoulder. It needs therapy.